Is Recruiting at a Standstill? Not if You are Proactive
By Tom Mauldin - 4/7/2020
With college sports shuttered for the season and high school spring and summer sports in jeopardy, what does the college softball recruiting landscape look like?
For those wishing to play at the next level, this is an often-asked and anxiety-filled question. And the many unknowns that come in this COVID-19 era adds to the stress and confusion.
There are many things that can impact college softball recruiting in 2020:
How will NCAA and NAIA colleges granting an extra year to seniors impact their scholarship numbers and budgets? The NCAA and the NAIA said they can get the year of eligibility back if they want, but what’s not knows is how the scholarships are going to work. That could eat up a lot of scholarship dollars There are a lot of unknown variables right now. Will it mean fewer recruits from the classes of 2020 and 2021?
What type of recruiting budget will be available when activities resume? Will there be fewer overnight recruiting trips, closer to home recruiting trips and what about camps and tournament play opportunities?
- When will recruiting resume to normal? The NCAA has a “dead period” through May 31. Originally, the NCAA set April 15 as a no-recruit period, then extended it recently to the end of May.
There are a lot of unknowns right now.
Which brings us to another popular question: what can high school softball players do today to get exposure when there are no games or statistics?
The best answers — control what you can. And you can control being proactive.
You need to develop a game plan and then reach out to colleges in which you have interest.
Before you contact any coach, however, research their college. Never ask a college coach to tell you about their college. It’s not their job. Their job is the school’s softball program and they are happy to talk about their passion. Do your homework as it will show the coach you DO your homework.
Make a realistic list of colleges that interest you. Start with 20 favorites, then 15 and 10 and so on until you find your perfect fit.
Start with a letter to let the coach know why you’re interested in their school academically and athletically, what you bring to the table athletically and how you plan to further your career academically.
Reach out to Coaches — it’s up to you to reach out to coaches. Be proactive. It’s worth repeating — be proactive. Don’t wait for them to contact you. Yes, NCAA coaches are prohibited from coaching until May 31, but that does not prohibit you from writing them a letter, sending emails and forwarding video. Get on their radar.
It’s also a good time to let coaches know what your workout plan has been and what you’ve been doing to prepare for the upcoming season.
The written letter is a great way to introduce yourself. It shows the coach you are taking the extra step and that they and their school are not just another email address. Let them know you are serious about being a student.
Follow the letter with emails and videos.
Do not panic. Do not over stress. All of us are living in a time of unknowns. No one is exempt. Therefore, the only recruit that has an advantage over another are those who are proactive.
Though the timing is a bit different this year, There are so many different avenues to be able to connect.
This will help you develop relationships with college coaches. Don’t just contact them once and assume the ball to be in their court. Keep emailing on a regular basis — weekly works — to remain on their radar.
Remember, the more college coaches you contact and develop a relationship with the more opportunities you will have to compete at the next level.
The key here is getting on their radar. You do that by being proactive.
As important as it is in reaching out to coaches is being prepared to play once games resume whether that’s high school or summer season. Genuine recruits will stay active and keep moving so when the opportunity does arise they’re ready to play.
Additional things you can do now to enhance your “next level” opportunities:
- Attend camps, combines, tournaments and showcases and let the coaches know when and where you are playing. Experience is information and information is powerful.
- Make plans to get evaluated and a get an unbiased player profile, such as one from Fastpitch Northwest. Make sure any coach you are in contact with, can update this information as they choose. A third party evaluation will help you better understand what schools you should focus on. Not everyone is a D1 recruit. Nor a D2 recruit. Nor an NAIA recruit.
- Maintain your grades. Remember, a student with low grades is a risk. Those with higher grades are a better recruit option.
- Get registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and the NAIA Clearinghouse.
- Learn recruiting guidelines and they do change almost yearly. Find out when you can contact a college coach and when they can contact you, call you, visit you, etc. Be in the know.
- Visit colleges of all levels. Sit in a classroom (when possible) and see how it feels. Is it a good fit for you?
- Take required collegiate testing. ACT and SAT are the most standard ones and usually start in your underclass high school years. Keep re-taking the test no matter how well you do. Again, be a no-risk student athlete.
- Research and prepare your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and financial aid information. Make this a priority and always remember that financial aid money is on a first-come, first service basis. Always apply early.
Again, do not panic … just be proactive.